Agencies 'must be bold', disability activist tells forum

Planners must confront social predjudice, seminar told

Disability activist Stephen Duckworth used his session at today's C&IT Agency Forum to call on event planners to take a bold stance on disability during pre-event registration.

Duckworth, an associate with the Emplyers Forum on Disability, asked delegates: "How do you go about finding out whether you have disabled delegates coming to your events? Most of you will do this by asking if your client if any of their audience has special requirements, and I imagine most responses will be ‘yes, I'm a vegetarian'. All well and good, but I'd ask you all to be brave enough to use the ‘D' word and not be embarrassed about it.

"Be bold enough to say to clients ‘we care about our delegates and we'd very much like to know if they have disabilities of any kind and what we can do to help improve their experience'."

Elsewhere in his session, he advised agencies to make sure the most basic housekeeping was adhered to. "The most common thing at conferences, and the thing that gets the most complaints, is when things such as hearing loops are in place but don't work," he said. "Also remember however, the easiest thing to get right is the hardware side of things, but the most important thing is how your disabled delegates are greeted and treated. Ask yourself, do you have the right calibre of staff and are they properly briefed?"

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